South Rim to Phantom in winter

South Rim Hikes

Moderator: HAZ - Moderators

Linked Guides none
Linked Areas none
Post Reply
User avatar
Rich_Kerri
Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 30 2009 9:49 am
City, State: Gilbert, AZ

South Rim to Phantom in winter

Post by Rich_Kerri » Dec 13 2012 3:14 pm

We have reservations at Phantom Ranch within the next few weeks. Hoping to get some info from those with experience hiking canyon in winter. Looking for general tips, tricks and concerns.
Also have a few specific questions:
1. Are crampons necessary and/or useful up there? How bad is the ice/snow usually?
2. Any ideas/experience with what to do in event of storm?
3. Bright Angel or Kaibab?
Thanks!

User avatar
cactuscat
Posts: 681
Joined: Oct 15 2002 12:08 pm
City, State: Safford

Re: South Rim to Phantom in winter

Post by cactuscat » Dec 13 2012 3:22 pm

Instep crampons may well be needed for the top couple of miles of trail.
Down SK and up BA is the classic route.
Where is the "dislike" button?

User avatar
toddak
Posts: 234
Joined: Nov 15 2005 8:46 pm
City, State: Puhoynix, AZ

Re: South Rim to Phantom in winter

Post by toddak » Dec 13 2012 4:00 pm

Definitely have a pair of Microspikes or Yaktrax with you, and hiking poles. Snow and ice can linger long after the storm passes on the shaded portions of the trails, even worse it often melts during the day and then re-freezes overnight. Starting down off the rim in the early morning it can be very slick. Once you descend below 5000' or so, the chances of encountering ice get lower.

Storms in the canyon are awesome and very enjoyable if you're prepared. So if you're layered, water- and wind-proof, hydrated and well-fed, and feeling like you have decent energy reserves, just keep on hiking to your destination. Otherwise think about staying put or backtracking in the easier direction. The weather and conditions will tend to get worse as you ascend, better as you descend.

User avatar
Al_HikesAZ
Posts: 1348
Joined: May 16 2005 1:01 pm
City, State: Scottsdale, AZ
Contact:

Re: South Rim to Phantom in winter

Post by Al_HikesAZ » Dec 14 2012 10:32 am

Here is my triplog and photos of a winter trip in a white-out blizzard. Includes tips on layers and layering. I had on my waterproof Sorrell boots but the "mule slush" on some steps was mid calf so the water got over the top of the boot and and I had wet socks. I probably should have duct taped around the top of the boots to keep the slush out.
http://hikearizona.com/triplog=47883
Anybody can make a hike harder. The real skill comes in making the hike easier.
Not if we can help it UNCLE JACK. http://www.sleepingdogtv.com/reel/Uncle-Jack.aspx Not if we can help it.

User avatar
azbackpackr
Posts: 8122
Joined: Jan 21 2006 6:46 am
City, State: Flag-summer-Needles-winter

Re: South Rim to Phantom in winter

Post by azbackpackr » Dec 14 2012 12:37 pm

Al_HikesAZ wrote:Here is my triplog and photos of a winter trip in a white-out blizzard. Includes tips on layers and layering. I had on my waterproof Sorrell boots but the "mule slush" on some steps was mid calf so the water got over the top of the boot and and I had wet socks. I probably should have duct taped around the top of the boots to keep the slush out.
http://hikearizona.com/triplog=47883
Duct tape? Just wear gaiters! I have knee-high ones, they keep out all the snow.

Jim H and I hiked down BA and across the Tonto and up SK back in January of 2011. It was cold, and the snow was on the trail for at least two miles down each trail. I brought instep crampons, but did not use them. I just used my two hiking poles. It wasn't particularly slippery. Other times I have used the instep crampons, however. But usually for less than a mile.

I really don't like overnight backpacking in the Canyon in winter because you are not allowed to have a campfire, and the winter nights are very looonnnnng and boooorrrrring, lying in a tent. I camped at BA backpacker camp one time during the winter solstice. So, I would think that staying in a cabin at Phantom during that time of year would be very nice indeed. Food's good, too! Have fun!! :)
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
A clean house is a sign of a misspent life.

User avatar
Al_HikesAZ
Posts: 1348
Joined: May 16 2005 1:01 pm
City, State: Scottsdale, AZ
Contact:

Re: South Rim to Phantom in winter

Post by Al_HikesAZ » Dec 14 2012 3:01 pm

azbackpackr wrote:. . .Duct tape? Just wear gaiters! I have knee-high ones, they keep out all the snow.
I wore my Outdoor Research midheight gaiters and they did a great job of keeping snow out, but when you step into a pool of water, the water came up under the gaiter and got into my boots.

Rich_Kerri - this trip had about the roughest conditions you could encounter. Most often it will be dry, not actually snowing heavily. The layering is still important. And staying dry is very important. Take an extra pack microtowel. Don't overexert. The instep crampons work and are cheap, but are not comfortable. My hands get wet from sweat. I had an extra pair of gloves in my pack but could not find them in the cold. Now I carry my gloves in a sea-to-summit dry bag hung on my pack.
toddak wrote:... and feeling like you have decent energy reserves, just keep on hiking to your destination. Otherwise think about staying put or backtracking in the easier direction. The weather and conditions will tend to get worse as you ascend, better as you descend.
very wise words from toddak. Know your limitations, don't push on into conditions that are worse than you can handle. If the weather is really bad, Phantom Ranch will figure out a way to put you up another night or two.
Anybody can make a hike harder. The real skill comes in making the hike easier.
Not if we can help it UNCLE JACK. http://www.sleepingdogtv.com/reel/Uncle-Jack.aspx Not if we can help it.

User avatar
cactuscat
Posts: 681
Joined: Oct 15 2002 12:08 pm
City, State: Safford

Re: South Rim to Phantom in winter

Post by cactuscat » Dec 14 2012 5:03 pm

Al_HikesAZ wrote: If the weather is really bad, Phantom Ranch will figure out a way to put you up another night or two.
Consult with the Rangers at Phantom and I.G. - they definitely will not send you out in potentially life-threatening weather. They would rather have you crash at their cabins than have to come rescue you later.
Where is the "dislike" button?

User avatar
autumnstars
Posts: 265
Joined: Jan 04 2011 11:27 pm
City, State: Las Vegas, NV

Re: South Rim to Phantom in winter

Post by autumnstars » Dec 17 2012 1:55 pm

Like others have mentioned - take crampons, or YakTraks, or something. If you don't need them, they're not heavy, but if you need them and don't have them... :(
Layers, layers, layers.

Stop in at the backcountry office the day before, or call (they only answer the phone from 1-5pm). Ask about ice on BA and SK trails. That might help you decide which trail to take down. Overall, SK has more expansive views, but that might not matter if there is thick cloud cover/stormy weather.

If the trails are wet, the top few miles can be very icy early in the morning, changing to huge puddles and slush in the afternoon. Try to time your accent to whatever you prefer.
"Let it ride / Let it roll / Let it go"

Post Reply

Return to “South Rim”


cron